Tagged with "Tampa Bay Rays"
Deep Thoughts 7-24-13
Category: FEATURED
Tags: Ryan Braun Alex Rodriguez Baseball and Peds Phil Mickelson wins a major LA Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays Yasiel Puig and Christian Yelich

 

 

Hello and welcome to another Wednesday of deep thoughts. The news of the day has to be Ryan Braun’s season ending suspension. This suspension ends suggestions about MLB waiting until next year to begin handing out Biogenesis punishment. Many will see Braun’s suspension as just or perhaps not enough…but I see something else. I see great change among the players. No longer are the guilty allowed to hide behind the MLBPA as so many of us suspected would happen. Nope…the rank and file baseball players have been heard. Now, the guilty must stand naked, if you will to the charges of cheating the game of baseball. I like the player that Ryan Braun is. I respect his talent, but think that he got what he deserved. For those of you that have grown cynical with peds in sports, this is the sign that we have been waiting for. If the majority of the players are clean, then the actions of the player’s union should convey the thoughts of the majority.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In many respects, Ryan Braun is a coward. He managed to escape a positive test due to a technicality. This time, he realized that there was too much evidence for him to claim innocence. Each of us makes mistakes. Most of us realize that the best course of action is to admit a mistake and move forward. Braun was forced to admit that his previous claims of innocence were wrong. For this, there is no defense. In the end, Braun had to take his medicine, but a much larger dose. There is no doubt that this stain on his reputation will linger forever more. I will never forget Rafael Palmerio wagging his finger at Congress and I will never be able to forget Braun’s seemingly sincere claim of innocence.

 


History has a way of changing the facts over time. Heroes of tomorrow are not necessarily heroes today…but my gut tells me that Braun will never escape the manner that he was caught. There is no honor in cheating and even less in lying. As we stand in the middle of this scandal, many will be unable to see the good that is emerging. But, good is here and my prediction is that it will spread. There are players willing to play by the rules and their numbers are many. A line in the sand has been drawn and the majority has taken the needed step. As fans, we must remember that nothing is forever and the game of baseball is amazingly resilient.

In a practical sense, Braun got off lucky. He has been injured and his team is out of the playoff chase. Losing the rest of this year is no great loss. He has a long term contract and will play for many years to come. Alex Rodriguez is a different story. ARod has begged our forgiveness before. I suspect that MLB will lay the wood to the backside of his baseball career. Rodriguez gambled and lost…and who among us cares? This could be a boon for the Yankees if they are able to void the remainder of his contract. But, there are other players on the hot seat and suspensions could impact their teams. Nelson Cruz and Johnny Peralta are on teams with playoff aspirations. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out. Is there enough evidence for them to lose time this year? Will the MLBPA step in to aid them if there is spotty proof? Let there be no doubt, there will be more pain before this is done.  I am convinced that we are moving to a better place. I am also encouraged that I see light at the end of this long tunnel…I just hope it is not a train.

 

Since the All Star game, I have continued to marvel at the LA Dodgers surge. Now, I am not a Dodger’s fan…but I cannot ignore the level of play that they continue to produce. I have repeatedly pounded the drum for Yasiel Puig. Of course he has cooled off a bit at the plate, but his defense has remained outstanding. The great players find a way to help their team. Sometimes, it is with a bat…others with a glove. Always, the great players find a way to help their team. Puig made two tremendous plays while going ofer at the plate. Puig threw a pea from right field to nail Bryce Harper. Although the umpire blew the call, it was impressive nonetheless. Puig made another play crashing into wall, but managed to secure the out. Another team has been fueled by a rookie, the Tampa Bay Rays. Since Wil Myers was called up, the Rays have been torrid…winning 18 of 20 games (until losing Tuesday night to Boston). There is something to adding a big league ready bat to the lineup that really can jump start a team. Of course, the Rays have a battle ahead of them, but Myers adds a valuable piece to the middle of their lineup. Although the Marlins are out of the playoff race, they called up a talented outfielder named Christian Yelich. He is another young talent to watch.

In case you missed the tremendous throw by Puig…here it is: For you haters; I dare you to find fault with this…

 

 

 

 

 

 

                    Damn...what else is there to say? Can you believe that Blue called him safe? Oh well, that does not take away from the great throw.

I do not know Yasiel Puig. I only know what I see. My eyes see the same skill set and approach to the game of WIllie Mays. Puig has much to prove before he reaches that lofty place...but why do so many refuse to see the talent? Why do so many want to look for flaws instead of enjoying the talent?

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Since I am an old guy, I have to take a minute to tip my hat to 43 year old Phil Mickelson for winning the British Open. In an era of me first athletes, it is great to see a nice guy like Lefty win a major. For those of you thinking that he comes home with a suitcase full of money...check this out:

Thanks to some hefty taxes in England and California, where Mickelson resides, estimates have Lefty only bringing home around 40 percent of the $1.4 million that he earned at Muirfield. According to ESPN, the United Kingdom takes nearly half of Mickelson's winnings ($628,900), while California will take another 13.3 percent ($192,300).

 

Now, 40% of 1.4 million is still nothing to sneeze at...but losing 60% is ridiculous as far as I am concerned.

 

I also think it is worth mentioning that Mickelson is 6 years older than Tiger. Mickelson's win should remind us that Tiger's window for winning a few majors is not completely closed. While it is certainly far from a sure thing that Tiger catches Jack...I have a difficult time imagining that Tiger does not win at least a couple more.

 

 

 


 

 

In the course of our journey, there are times when we face obstacles. Sully is recovering from surgery on Tuesday and is in need of not only our thoughts and prayers, but our financial help as well. I have faced tough times and understand how difficult it is to ask and accept help. Please take the time to reach out to Kevin…anything helps.


 


 



That’s all I have today, but I will leave you with a bit of Jack Handey:

 

 

Remember, kids in the backseat cause accidents; accidents in the backseat cause kids.

 

"I think people tend to forget that trees are living creatures. They're sort of like dogs. Huge, quiet, motionless dogs, with bark instead of fur."

 

 

Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a few deep thoughts of your own…

 

 

 

 

 

Five Minute Frags - Enabling Inadequacies
Category: FEATURED
Tags: MLB Bad Umpiring Blown Calls Oakland Athletics Tampa Bay Rays

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

  • French Proverb

 

When Major League Baseball first made the decision to institute limited instant replay in August 2008, the move was met with a feeling of inevitability. It was an inevitability that a game that always fought progress, would finally succumb to it.

Well, it was also inevitable that the same backward thinking that took it so long for the league to implement the measure would then also impede it from being used properly.

As a game, baseball has long been built around the judgment of the individual, a belief that one person’s naked eye should be the end-all, be-all judge of all. By instituting limited instant replay on home run balls (fair/foul, out of the park or not), the league as a whole caved to the realization that the naked eye is not always to be believed. Bud Selig even admitted as much during his initial press conference on August 26, 2008.

"I believe this is right," Selig. "I think the umpires believe it. I think the players believe it. The evidence [for using it] became overwhelming the more I looked at ballparks. You've got an umpire running out and he's 300-400 feet away, and it became impossible [for him to make the right call]. I'm delighted we're able to make this adjustment.

Yes, here we stand, nearly five seasons after the system has been introduced, and we still rely on the judgment of one person to dictate the outcome of a ballgame?

On Wednesday night, the Oakland Athletics were handed a loss by the Cleveland Indians after they failed to push a tying run over the plate during the 9th inning. However, that should not have been the case, as Adam Rosales hit what appeared to be a game-tying home run with two-outs in the inning. However, the umpire crew called the ball in play rather than a home run and Rosales ended up at second base.

This is the type of situation replay was instituted to resolve. The Athletics protested and the umpires decided to go to the replay, which clearly showed the ball hitting a railing above the yellow line at Progressive Field and bouncing back into play, which would mean the ball was indeed a home run. However, despite both home and away feeds showing that fact and the umpire crew having access to said feeds, crew chief Angel Hernandez ruled the play would stand as ruled on the field.

Obviously, Bob Melvin was incensed and was ejected for continuing to argue the call on the field. The Athletics would load the bases, but would ultimately fail to push that tying run across.

But that fact is not the real kick in the teeth. That came from MLB’s executive vice-president for baseball operations Joe Torre.

In a ruling on Thursday, Torre admitted that “an improper call was made”. However, Torre left the call as is, saying “By rule, the decision to reverse a call by use of instant replay is at the sole discretion of the crew chief. In the opinion of Angel Hernandez, who was last night's crew chief, there was not clear and convincing evidence to overturn the decision on the field. It was a judgment call, and as such, it stands as final.”

Torre is referring to rule 9.02a which states, “Any umpire’s decision which involves judgment, such as, but not limited to, whether a batted ball is fair or foul, whether a pitch is a strike or a ball, or whether a runner is safe or out, is final. No player, manager, coach or substitute shall object to any such judgment decisions.

However, it begs to ask that if we are making progress toward the correct judgment, should we not also be progressing toward a way to correct improper judgment?

In this case, the Athletics are allowed an appeal to Torre’s office, but based on the way the rule is written – or interpreted, I’m unsure which – that appeal is for naught, as the umpire’s judgment is deemed the final word. They in essence become the judge, jury, and executioner so to speak.

This is not the first example of this, let alone the first time this season. The Tampa Bay Rays were robbed twice by bad calls, once on April 9th when Marty Foster handed Joe Nathan his 300th save on poor strike call and another time on April 4th, when Evan Longoria was ruled to have overrun Ben Zobrist on an RBI single. Unfortunately, you cannot argue balls and strikes, and the umpire refused to ask for help on the April 4th play.

However, the issue at hand is that the appeals system is nearly non-existent. What good does it do to file said appeal if in essence all you are getting to really say is, “I’m really unhappy Joe.” 

It is an absolute disgrace to the game that there is no willingness on the part of Major League Baseball to correct a wrong. Instead, they simply say “sorry” and expect that it is fair to both parties to leave things as ruled on the field.  With the insertion of replay, we should be making progress against bad judgment calls rather than enabling them to continue unhindered.

Is the long-term legitimacy of the game really worth bolstering up the ego of an individual?

Five Minute Frags - Price Is Right For Moore
Category: FEATURED
Tags: MLB Tampa Bay Rays David Price Matt Moore

 

 

 

There is very little of more value in the baseball world than a 27-year-old former Cy Young winner that is still under team control for two-plus seasons. Every team wants to land a stud pitcher, in his prime, that they still have some negotiating room with.

 

Enter stage left, David Price.

 

The Rays lefty is coming off of another solid season, one in which he won the American League Cy Young award while pitching in baseball's toughest division. He's thrown 200+ innings each of his three full season at the Major League level. Oh, and he's good for 200 K's per season.

 

So why would the Tampa Bay Rays entertain the thought  of trading such a prized commodity?

 

Well, first off, if the Rays move Price at the appropriate time, the return could be astonomical. If James Shields could pry the Minor League Player of the Year away from the Royals, then surely Price could net a larger bounty. We're not just talking about quantity here, but we're also talking about quality, like Jurickson ProfarOscar Taveras type quality. And that's only part of any return package for Price.

 

Secondly, the modest-spending Rays like to float a relatively small team payroll, with Tampa having the third lowest in baseball at $57.895 million in 2013. Price, with two years of arbitration left, is the team's highest paid player at $10.113 million, which represents a nearly $7 million increase from 2012. That's already 17.5% of the team's payroll. Imagine what that climbs up to as Price keeps playing the arbitration game. Tampa would more likely move him before his salary impedes them from playing their small market shuffle.

 

Needless to say, it's safe to assume that the Rays will make a deal that will send Price from Tampa to the highest bidder. That just makes the continued development of Matt Moore all the more important.

 

Moore was everyone's favorite for the 2012 Rookie of the Year coming into last season. In fact, the Rays thought so much of his cup-of-coffee in 2011, that they inked the rookie to a 5-year, $14 million extension after just 3 appearances at the Major League level. While he didn't exactly live up to those expectations, the hard-throwing Moore still enjoyed a solid season. When all was said and done in 2012, Moore finished 12-12 with a 3.81 ERA, an 8.9 K/9 ratio, and a 1.4 bWAR.

 

However, the 23-year-old Moore is looking a bit more comfortable in his second go-around.

 

In 2013, Moore has won all four of his starts with a minuscule 1.04 ERA, having surrendered just 3 earned runs over 26 innings pitched. Opposing hitters are reaching Moore for just a .116 batting average against and he's returning the favor by striking out 10 for every 9 innings pitched. And he's seemingly getting stronger as the early season progresses, holding the Yankees to a single earned run over 8 innings while striking out 9 on Monday night.

 

Moore stands to be the one with the most to gain if Price departs, and would be the likely heir to the thrown of ace. The best part for the Rays is, because of Andrew Friedman's foresight, he doesn't even begin to make a blip on the payroll scale until 2018 at best, and that is only at $9 million.

 

The shrewd Rays keep finding a way to restock and reload without breaking the bank, and Price is just another means to that end. David Price had his run, and next it will be Matt Moore's turn.

 

And, as long as they keep developing the talent they turn these players into, the Rays will keep peskily hanging around. Now all they have to do is get their Profar, Taveras, or whatever high-end prospect they can for Price.

2013 American League Predictions
Category: FEATURED
Tags: MLB American League Season Predictions Toronto Blue Jays Detroit Tigers Los Angeles Angels Oakland Athletics Tampa Bay Rays

 

 

 

With games starting as Sunday night when the newly minted American League Houston Astros host their cross-state rival Texas Rangers on Sunday night, the 2013 Major League Baseball season is upon us. No more talk about the Hot Stove, no more trade or free agent speculation, just baseball. Pure and simple.

 

But we still have a few days left before the first pitch is thrown and the long, arduous season is underway. That means we have a few more minutes to make some predictions and assumptions about how things will play out and who will be wearing the crown when the dust settles.

 

Today, we'll work on the American League, and then we'll follow that up with the National League tomorrow. So let's get started, shall we?

 

American League East

 

1.) Toronto Blue Jays

2.) Tampa Bay Rays (WC)

3.) Boston Red Sox

4.) Baltimore Orioles

5.) New York Yankees

 

No team in baseball did more to improve their overall team than did the Toronto Blue Jays. Adding three quality starters (R.A. DickeyMark Buehrle, and Josh Johnson) to their starting five and then securing two solid top of the order hitters (Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera) and a pair of universal infielders (Maicer Izturis and Emilio Bonifacio), the Blue Jays may be the deepest team in baseball. They will beat teams on the mound, on the basepaths, and in the batter's box. Some pundits worry about how the team will gel, but the players acquired are all professionals of the highest order and that shouldn't be an issue. The AL East, in a weakened state, should be their division to lose.

 

Tampa will take second place and one of the two wild-cards in the American League. The Rays have the one thing all teams envy, and that's a deep pitching staff that will keep them in any game, and help them win quite a few. Unfortunately, the line-up outside of Evan Longoria is at its most barren and Tampa will again struggle to score runs. That may improve once the team bites the bullet and promotes Wil Myers, but they'll need to wait three weeks before that happens.

 

I may shock some people by picking the Red Sox to vault up to third place this season, and then again some will think this is a homer pick. That said, Boston did a lot to improve themselves throughout the order, adding Mike NapoliShane VictorinoJonny Gomes, and Ryan Dempster. Furthermore, the pair of Clay Buchholz and Lon Lester have looked great this spring and they'll have a healthy Will Middlebrooks back. The only question mark is David Ortiz, but the team is deeper and may be able to withstand a short-term loss of Big Papi.

 

The final two squads could easily flip-flop in the standings. As much as I appreciated what the Orioles did in 2012, I think they overachieved and are in for a market correction. Baltimore did little to improve on a squad that managed only a +7 run differential and won more games with their bullpen than any other team in the American League.

 

Meanwhile, the Yankees are going to struggle to overcome the injuries to Curtis GrandersonMark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez. They may have a solid starting five, but they'll lose more offense than any team in baseball for the first three months of the season, and an aging Kevin YoukilisTravis HafnerVernon Wells, and Lyle Overbay are not going to be the answer the Yankees need.

 

American League Central

 

1.) Detroit Tigers

2.) Cleveland Indians

3.) Chicago White Sox

4.) Kansas City Royals

5.) Minnesota Twins

 

The AL Central is likely going to be a brutal division in 2013. The Tigers are still the toast of the town and should be better than the 88-win team that won the division in 2012. The addition of Torii Hunter and the return of Victor Martinez should make the line-up even deeper and the pitching staff should be solid, with Justin Verlander topping the rotation and a full season of Anibal Sanchez to add to the mix. Closer is a concern, but the role is overrated anyway.

 

The Cleveland Indians have flirted with respectability each of the last two seasons, but stumbled in the second half of both. The front office reloaded by bringing in Nick SwisherMichael BournMark Reynolds, and Brett Myers, but we should all keep an eye on Scott Kazmir. If Kazmir can be a shadow of what he used to be, this could be a very entertaining team to watch.

 

The White Sox have a lot of good going for them, but they are still only a third place team at best. Chris Sale and Jake Peavy are a solid 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation, but the rest of the starting five has its question marks. Will Tyler Flowers be able to carry A.J. Pierzysnki's weight? Will Adam Dunn ever get himself away from the Mendoza line? Can the starting outfield avoid regressing in 2013? That's a lot of questions to answer to make a two-team jump for the division title.

 

I really like what the Kansas City Royals did this winter. The front office finally said "we need to win", and they went out and traded their top prospect (Myers) to Tampa for James Shields and Wade Davis, and acquired Ervin Santana from the Angels. Still, will it all be for naught when these markedly better Royals squad still has to jump three other teams in the division? Will they regret losing a talent of Myers' proportions?

 

What can you say about the Minnesota Twins? This is a still a team that revolves around Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, but their window of opportunity has passed and the team seems to be set on building for the future. The fans will be treated to a talented rookie in Aaron Hicks and the team will likely turn to other young building blocks as the season progresses. The lack of a solid pitching staff and a young line-up likely means that the Twins will make more noise at the trade deadline than they will in the standings. Expect Morneau and Josh Willingham to be shopped extensively when the Twins fall out of contention in early June.

 

American League West

 

1.) Los Angeles Angels

2.) Oakland Athletics (WC)

3.) Texas Rangers

4.) Seattle Mariners

5.) Houston Astros

 

To me, this is the toughest division to pick. In the end, I went with the Angels taking the title, as they are just a dangerous team to have to face consistently. The addition of Josh Hamilton to a line-up that already contained Albert PujolsMike Trout, and Mark Trumbo will be devastating for even the best rotations to face. Jered Weaver is a solid ace at the top of the rotation, but the rest of the starting five is made up of number 4 starters at best, and that's giving Joe Blanton a lot of credit. Still, the team's offense should carry them.

 

Oakland is my runner-up, but could very well steal the division again. The starting rotation is as deep as they come, and Billy Beane's teams always seem to have another arm waiting in the wings, which they may need if Brett Anderson continues to struggle with his health. Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick will likely continue to improve and are solid offensive building blocks. The addition of Jed Lowrie is another good buy-low move by Beane.

 

What were the Texas Rangers doing this winter? A team with so much to gain just by retaining their top offensive weapon, Texas instead let Hamilton walk to a division rival and did nothing to replace him. They have the best prospect in the game in Jurickson Profar, but no place to play him, so why they couldn't swing a deal for Justin Upton with Elvis Andrus as a center piece, I don't know. The combination of Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison at the top of the rotation is solid, but losing out on Greinke is going to hurt them.

 

The Seattle Mariners, like the Royals above, did a lot to improve their team, first bringing in the fences, then bringing Kendrys Morales and Mike Morse to help an anemic offense support one of the most underrated pitching staffs in baseball. Still, they face an uphill battle with the Rangers, A's, and Angels still having stronger rosters to fall back on. The presence of Danny HultzenTaijuan WalkerJames PaxtonMike Zunino, and Nick Franklin gives the Mariners a top-5 prospect list to be envied by any organization.

 

Moving from the NL Central to the AL West was the right move for the Astros and will help them create a natural rivalry with the Rangers. Unfortunately, they have a few years of building a roster ahead of them, especially after dismantling the current one. There is something to be said about building a winner by losing on the field, but entertaining is not one of them.

 
Verlander and Price Highlight AL Cy Young Race
Category: MLB
Tags: MLB Detroit Tigers Tampa Bay Rays AL Cy Young

 

20 wins used to mean a lot in this business. It was almost a single-handed guarantee that the Cy Young was yours for the taking. You lead the league in wins, you take home the hardware. Simple as that.

 

Then Zack Greinke happened, taking the award home in with a measily 16 wins in 2009 and all hell broke loose. The sabermetricians came out with their picket and their torches and demanded that the best pitcher in the game be given the award, regardless of his team's success, hence dictating his win total. As if to drive it home, they gave Tim Lincecum his second award in 2009 as well, despite having just 15 wins. Then they took their opinion to the polls, granting Felix Hernandez the Cy Young in 2010 with just 13 wins to his name.

 

The world had gone all topsy-turvy.

 

So how does this new era in award voting affect the 2012 Cy Young vote? Well, we have two 20-game winners in Jered Weaver and David Price, both of whom have a rightful claim to the award

 

David Price

Year

Tm

W

L

ERA

G

GS

CG

SHO

SV

IP

H

R

ER

HR

BB

SO

ERA+

WHIP

SO/9

SO/BB

2012

TBR

20

5

2.56

31

31

2

1

0

211.0

173

63

60

16

59

205

149

1.100

8.7

3.47

Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Original Table

Generated 10/1/2012.

 

 

Jered Weaver

Year

Tm

W

L

ERA

G

GS

CG

SHO

IP

H

R

ER

HR

BB

SO

ERA+

WHIP

SO/9

SO/BB

2012

LAA

20

4

2.73

29

29

3

2

187.2

145

61

57

20

43

141

138

1.002

6.8

3.28

Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Original Table

Generated 10/1/2012.

 

In terms of straight statistics, both men represent themselves as a solid candidate. They share the league-lead in victories with 20. However, while Weaver has the league-lead in WHIP and a no-hitter under his belt in 2012, Price has the lower ERA, more starts, more innings pitched, a better ERA+, and a huge advantage in strke-outs.

 

So the 2012 American League Cy Young award should go to David Price correct?

 

But wait a second, the aforementioned sabermetricians come over the hill, banging their WAR drums and stumping for a third candidate; Justin Verlander.

 

The fact that Verlander has not gotten more publicity is ludicrous. After all, this is the man that not only won the Cy Young in 2011, but also took home the league MVP trophy as well. That said, it can be tough to follow that kind of performance up, but Verlander has done admirably in 2012.

 

Justin Verlander

Year

Tm

W

L

ERA

G

GS

CG

SHO

IP

H

R

ER

HR

BB

SO

ERA+

SO/9

SO/BB

Awards

2012

DET

17

8

2.64

33

33

6

1

238.1

192

81

70

19

60

239

158

9.0

3.98

AS

Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Original Table

Generated 10/1/2012.

 

So Verlander asserts himself with some other solid stats. His ERA sits comfortably between those of Price and Weaver. He's also got a solid advantage in complete games, inning pitched, strike-outs, and ERA+. But since we were talking about sabermetrics and WAR (wins above replacement) in particular, we can compare them in that category. And because no one can truly agree on how to calculate WAR, we'll use both Baseball-Reference and  Fangraphs for this analysis.

 

Baseball-Reference

Price - 6.5

Weaver - 3.9

Verlander - 7.6

 

FanGraphs

 

Price - 5.1

Weaver - 3.0

Verlander - 6.8

 

So, in retrospect, both sites agree on two points. First, while still a solid pitcher, Weaver is simply pedestrian in comparison to either Price or Verlander. Second, Verlander is significantly higher valued pitcher to have, despite the lower win total.

 

And if the sabermetricians are right, then the Cy Young award for 2012 stays puts.

 

Justin Verlander is your winner.

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